Impression – Mekakucity Actors, Episode 01

Mekaku City Actors (Shaft) – Genre: Comedy, Romance, Supernatural, Sci-fi

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Act 01 – “Artificial Enemy”

Probably the most hyped-up anime series this season, and I’m a little mixed as to how I should feel about it. It could be because I think Shaft is overrated, but I try not to let that bias my opinion too much when I’m watching a new series that they’ve worked on. Before you start carrying me off to the gallows, let me preface this by saying I’ve read the Kagerou Days manga (as much as been translated at least) and I really liked it. I’m sure that bit of information is important for your judgment of my character.

I suppose the most disappointing thing for me this episode was the lack of quality (in my opinion) given to the character animation. I’m not talking about the designs either, which I’m fine with since they stay true to the style they have in the original music videos by Jin. Shaft has always been good about that. I’m talking about general animation in which the characters appear to look unsmooth and distorted, a phenomenon that plagues many “lesser” studios that run out of budget for their wider shots (i.e. really zoomed out shots).

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The problem here for Shaft is that they rely heavily on these wide shots that the facial distortions are always noticeable (the screencap above isn’t an example of this, though). It’s unfortunate because it seems to me like Shaft doesn’t pay that much attention (and probably money) to anything that’s not Madoka or Monogatari. Most studios improve over the years (I’m thoroughly impressed with Brains Base‘s works this season), but Shaft has not in my opinion, except for the amazing 3rd Madoka Movie. Sure, their backgrounds are highly detailed but that’s all the more reason for the characters to match that level of quality. That’s my opinion, and if you disagree, I respect that and I won’t say you’re wrong. Anime, like any other art form, is highly subjective after all.

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Now that I’m done making an ass out of myself, lemme do a quick run down of the first episode which covers the first chapter of the manga. If I’m not mistaken, I think each episode will pretty much be an adaptation of a song from the original Kagerou Project. That’s pretty awesome in my opinion. The fact that a series of songs written by a doujin artist has been adapted into an anime is rather incredible. The first episode features a hikikomori named Shintaro Kisaragi (CV: Takuma Terashima) who’s forced to go outside when he accidentally spills Coke on his keyboard, thanks to an argument with his Netnavi-type computer companion Ene (CV: Kana Asumi). Once at the mall, he finds himself a hostage of a bunch of terrorists and takes it upon himself to save everyone.

I’m excited to see the rest of the characters animated and how Shaft will handle the non-linearity of the series. As we’ll soon learn, each main character has mysterious supernatural abilities as well as interesting backstories about how they came to form the Mekakushi-dan.

Here’s a PV of the original song, “Artificial Enemy”.

“Summer’s in full swing all right… Was it this hot last year?” ~ Ene

B.W.

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